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Published: April 2010
Between 2006 and 2009, world capacity for oxalic acid grew at an average annual rate of 14.4%, outpacing world consumption, which declined at an average annual rate of 0.1% during the same period. World capacity for oxalic acid increased by approximately 190 thousand metric tons during 2007–2009; all capacity growth was in China. This has exacerbated the persistent excess in oxalic acid capacity. Low margins and capacity additions are expected to force some oxalic acid producers, mainly outside China, to curtail production or shut down plants; further consolidations, including the exit of smaller and inefficient producers in China, are expected as new capacity is commissioned. There are persistent low operating rates (40% in 2009) as a result of excess world capacity. Most of the underutilized capacity is in China.
China is by far the largest world producer, consumer and exporter of oxalic acid. Further Chinese capacity expansions are forecast between 2010 and 2012. Consumption declines in most regions during 2006–2009 were offset by consumption gains in Asia. Increased demand for oxalic acid for rare earth oxides, pharmaceuticals and textile/metal treatment will continue to strengthen Asia’s dominance (primarily China) of the oxalic acid market.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of oxalic acid:
Growth in demand for oxalic acid relies heavily on production of rare earth oxides and pharmaceuticals. Rare earths are used mainly in catalysts (automotive emission and FCC catalysts), metallurgical (steel and alloys), glass and ceramics applications. The United States is the largest consumer of rare earths, followed by China, Japan and Europe.
Asia accounts for nearly 85% of the world consumption of oxalic acid. China is the largest world consumer of oxalic acid because of a large rare earth oxides market; it accounts for approximately 75% of world production of rare earth mineral concentrates.
China has the ability to supply most current and future world demand for oxalic acid. A rapidly growing market, especially for pharmaceuticals and rare earth oxides, has made China the top choice for additional investment/capacity.